Eq: Total Market
There has been a lot of bearish sentiment over the last couple of months, with more of a positive trend lately. Put this piece in the positive bucket. The argument in question is from Capital Group, a $1.8 tn manager, who contends that while we are in the late stage of an economic cycle, there should still be a couple years of good earnings growth and returns. The late stage of an economic cycle typically lasts 1-3 years, says Capital Group, and that shouldn’t be any different this time. According to the the firm, “Given that this expansion has been pretty measured, I think we’re expecting that the late stage of the cycle will probably also be quite measured as well … And it doesn’t have to end in a recession”.
FINSUM: We really like that final thought. Everything about this market and economy has been steady for years. A slow and steady end makes sense.
Markets are up since Christmas, but anybody who feels like they are on solid footing is probably a fool. So one of the big questions right now is how to play risky markets? Well, Barron’s has just published a piece outlining what they see as the best funds for such an environment. The picks are based on 15-year performance, including how funds performed during the Financial Crisis. Here are some to look at: AMG Yacktman, Parnassus Core Equity, Invesco Dividend Income, JP Morgan Small Cap Equity, and Neuberger Berman Genesis.
FINSUM: Not a bad idea to look at the funds that have been the best overall risk managers.
Many advisors may respect the opinion of Bob Rodriguez. The former fund manager achieved some acclaim by accurately forecasting the Dotcom bust and Financial Crisis. The former CEO of First Pacific Advisors says that a financial crisis is now a “near certainty”. His fear is that excess leverage in the economy, coupled with a recession, will cause a big crisis. He believes “delusional” equity markets are now only starting to recognize this reality.
FINSUM: The preconditions for a crisis are there—a big buildup in corporate debt and pending recession. However, the timing and magnitude are both big question marks.
2019 is often to an uneven start. We have had some good days and some bad ones, but the market has surely not found solid footing or a narrative to drive it. With that in mind, the question of allocation becomes eve more complicated than it was a few months ago. Goldman Sachs has just put out its recommendations and argues that investors should put money back in shares, as they are due for a big rebound. Historically, shares generally bounce back after falling 20% in a quarter, and Goldman thinks there are big returns to be made. Companies seeing margin expansion might be particularly favorable.
FINSUM: The S&P 500 has already advanced almost 10% since Christmas eve, but we are not sold the current tread is upward.
Investors may have gotten excited on Friday. Accommodative language from the Fed has a way of doing that. However, there is no reason to get to exhilarated, as this rally doesn’t seem to have legs. One of the big worries is about the largest group of shareholders in the country—Baby Boomers. Because this generation is retiring, they are likely to sell into any rally as they don’t have time left to wait for a big recovery. Accordingly, any rally will likely lose momentum quickly. As evidence, redemptions over the last four weeks have totaled $164 bn, or more than 1% of money in all stock and bond funds.
FINSUM: This is an interesting argument and one we tend to take seriously given the size of the Baby Boomer population and their large shareholdings. That said, we do not think it is large enough to affect the fundamentals of the market, just alter the amplitude.
Retail stocks are in a tenuous position. They thrived to begin 2018, and for three quarters rolled to solid gains. Then in the fourth quarter they got rocked despite the fact that they had been gaining momentum from healthier consumer spending and a stronger than expected holiday shopping season. So what to do? Jefferies says it is time to buy the dip, based on the fact that “The consumer is strong, Amazon isn’t killing retail, the Federal Reserve is more dovish, oil down, first-half weather compares easy, free cash flow piling up, margins are moving up and consumer discretionary stocks are cheap on absolute and relative basis”. Check out these names: Gap, American Eagle Outfitters, Five Below, Foot Locker, Kohl’s, Urban Outfitters, Under Armour, Tapestry, and Lululemon Athletica.
FINSUM: Our view is that at some point soon (has it already happened?), ecommerce and brick and mortar are going to fall into equilibrium. When that happens, it will be good for traditional retailing stocks.